What future for futurology?
From somewhat haphazard beginnings, exploration of the future, or futurology, has become a world-wide research movement that reflects a broad range of scholarly and scientific interests and disciplines. Its practitioners offer their anticipations not as certainties, but merely as possibilities or, in some cases, probabilities. And such assessments are usually based on studies of technological and social trends and an imaginative speculation on the results of scientific and technological development.
Yet even today, many of the realities of futurology are obscured by a lack of public understanding of its aims and methods. The U.S. futurologist Daniel Bell, chairman of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences' "Commission on the Year 2000," has pointed out that a good deal of today's public interest in the future arises from the bewitchment of technology. "What is bad," he writes, "is that a serious and necessary effort is in danger of being turned into a fad, and any fad trivializes a subject and quickly wears it out. A second evil is that many more expectations are aroused than can be fulfilled."
To the question, "What future for futurology?," this issue of the Unesco Courier seeks to offer some answers that examine with equal impartiality the possibilities 'and the limitations of this new branch of human endeavour.